Circle Cinema in Tulsa to screen “Bagdad Cafe”

"Bagdad Cafe" movie poster

The historic Circle Cinema in Tulsa will screen the cult-classic based on Route 66, “Bagdad Cafe,” on Thursday night as part of the Mother Road Revival festivities.

The screening of “Bagdad Cafe” is slated for 7 p.m., but a reception will be held at the moviehouse at 5:30 p.m. featuring music from Bandelier and documentary films featuring best-selling Route 66 historian, actor and Tulsa resident Michael Wallis.

Wallis also will introduce the film at the screening. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased here.

The film Bagdad Café is named after the famous Route 66 café that inspired it. It tells the story of a German couple whose car breaks down in the middle of the California desert. After arguing, the wife walks out. She ends up at a flea-bitten truck stop that is the second home to a group of odd characters, and she begins to transform their lives.

Here’s the trailer for the film.

The German film was released in 1987. It’s an eccentric movie that’s not without its fans — including the late critic Roger Ebert. “Bagdad Cafe” also gained notice for one of its songs, “Calling You,” by Jevetta Steele, which has been covered extensively over the years.

The “Bagdad Cafe” movie also became sort of a crossroads for the career of actor Jack Palance, who portrayed artist Rudi Cox. He began getting more movie roles and won an Academy Award just four years later for his memorable performance as Curly the cowboy in “City Slickers.”

Most of the filming was at the Sidewinder Cafe and a nearby motel along Route 66 in Newberry Springs, California. Pilgrimages by European “Bagdad Cafe” fans prompted the owner to change its name to Bagdad Cafe, and it remains open to this day.

Bagdad, California, where the movie was supposed to be based, is about 50 miles east on Route 66 but no longer exists.

It’s not often “Bagdad Cafe” shows up on the big screen. So this event in Tulsa should give moviegoers a chance to see the Bagdad Cafe, along with the now-gone motel, from 30 years ago.

The Circle Cinema, on Lewis Avenue near Admiral Place, opened on Route 66 in 1928 and remains the oldest theater standing in Tulsa. The Circle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater closed for nearly a decade, then reopened in 2004 as a venue for independent films.

(Image of “Bagdad Cafe” movie poster posted courtesy of Michael Wallis)

One thought on “Circle Cinema in Tulsa to screen “Bagdad Cafe”

  1. Picked up my ticket when I was at the Circle on Monday (Member Day, free popcorn) and looking forward to seeing ‘Bagdad Cafe’ again. I first saw it about 30 years ago at Williams Forum Cinema, in downtown Tulsa (remember, the big screen theater on the lower level next to the ice rink), but at a time that I was only vaguely aware of Tulsa’s connection with Route 66. I liked the film so much I bought a VHS of it, that I haven’t watched in years–not sure the VCR I have even works now. So, Ron, will you be making a little Tulsa trip for this occasion or any of the other Mother Road Revival events?

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